The Big Issue : Edition 517
34 THE BIG ISSUE 29 JULY – 11 AUG 2016 WHEN ALICIA VIKANDER appeared on Australian screens two years ago in local indie film Son of a Gun, few audiences had heard of the Swedish- born, London-based actor. That film – a prison breakout story with poor box- office receipts – consigned Vikander to the role of love interest in a cast dominated by men. Less than two years later, she’s unlikely to be relegated to a bit part anytime soon. An impressive run of 2015 performances launched her to the Hollywood A-list, thanks to lead roles in the likes of World War I drama Testament of Youth and as an enigmatic android in cerebral sci-fi Ex Machina. The year culminated in a suite of accolades for her performance as Gerda Wegener in The Danish Girl, including an Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. You might think that winning an Oscar would warrant a celebratory break, but Vikander hasn’t stopped since. “Since then I haven’t even been home in London. I’ve just been on the road. I haven’t really been out in the world!” She doesn’t look like someone who’s spent half a year away from home; Vikander is fresh and sunny despite the sombre weather. She’s back in Australia to promote her role as Matt Damon’s antagonist/ally in Jason Bourne, the fifth instalment of the spy franchise and her first 2016 film (of many). “Selling a film is so different to making them,” Vikander observes. “Actually being on set I find quite – I wouldn’t say ‘relaxing’, because it’s long hours and big work – but...I love that thing of being on set and having a few weeks embracing the work, something you believe in, with other people.” Workaholics thrive in this industry, which might explain why Vikander is so effective as CIA agent Heather Lee, finding nuance in what could have been a cliche. “Paul [Greengrass, the director] told me that what every character in the Bourne movies has in common is they’re all very lonely. “You almost can’t imagine them going back home from work and having a real life. They are just totally embraced in their world mission,” she says, mirroring – perhaps unconsciously – her earlier description of her life on set, “embracing the work”. Vikander is excited to discuss her character, her sentences rushing over one another. Maybe this is just because it’s the beginning of the junkets, but it seems genuine: an unabashed love of her vocation that goes some way towards explaining the density of her filmography. Her recent success has afforded her opportunities off set, too. After being named the new face of Louis Vuitton, this year Vikander has launched her own production company, Vikarious Productions. Their first project, Euphoria, stars Vikander alongside Eva Green and Charlotte Rampling, with Swedish director Lisa Langseth (who directed Vikander’s first film role in 2009’s Pure) behind the camera. “The heart of it is the two female leads – which is very rare, if it’s not a comedy. It’s actually going to be the first time I’m going to share that much screen time with another actress, or two other actresses.” The strong female presence is a corrective to Vikander’s recent career, which has been something of a sausage fest; in an interview last year she noted that she’d gone five films in a row without acting alongside another woman. That trend continues with Jason Bourne, where, in the tradition of the prior films, her role as the rare woman in the upper echelons of the CIA seems to go hand-in-hand with sympathy for Matt Damon’s rogue super-spy. Jason Bourne concludes with Vikander’s character front and centre, ready for the possibility of a prominent role in the sixth Bourne instalment. That, and her casting as Lara Croft in the upcoming Tomb Raider reboot (another role she’s inherited from Angelina Jolie, a former face of Louis Vuitton), suggests a path towards more commercial cinema: which, in 2016, means franchises. Vikander is upbeat about the prospect. “When you make a film you almost never shoot in sequence,” she says. “You’ve done the prep work, but it’s about doing scenes spread out across the entire story... Maybe halfway in...you know the character. But it takes time. So I would love to be able to go back and revisit a character I really enjoyed playing.” All of which suggests that, like her Bourne character Heather Lee, Alicia Vikander isn’t likely to be slowing down anytime soon. You get the impression she wouldn’t have it any other way. by Dave Crewe » Jason Bourne is out now. IN TWO YEARS ALICIA VIKANDER HAS GONE FROM BIT PART TO CENTRE STAGE. AND HER LATEST ROLE IN JASON BOURNE IS JUST THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG. BOURNE O LEAD T HEATHER LEE AND JASON BOURNE: ANTAGONISTS AND ALLIES.